Saturday, October 18, 2008

Intelligent Design opponents getting Orwellian on us

The Louisiana Coalition for Science, fresh off its campaign to try to convince the public that objectivity is a creationist plot, is now claiming that the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), which passed last June, is once again pushing the bounds of logic. Barbara Forrest, the philosopher of science turned crusader against Intelligent Design who makes up at least 50 percent of the group, is now arguing that LSEA is a religious law because it specifies that it isn't:

One of the clearest indications that the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) is intended to advance the religious agenda of the Discovery Institute (DI) and the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), the organizations that jointly promoted this legislation, is the law’s inclusion of a religion disclaimer that comes directly from DI’s doublespeak-titled “Model Academic Freedom Statute on Evolution.”

Here is DI’s disclaimer:

Section 7. Nothing in this act shall be construed as promoting any religious doctrine, promoting discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promoting discrimination for or against religion or non-religion.

Here is the disclaimer in the LSEA, now Louisiana Act 473 [pdf], which the Louisiana House and Senate passed as SB 733 and which Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law on June 25, 2008:

D. This Section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.

There you have it. The law says it isn't religious, and the Discovery Institute says such laws shouldn't be religious, therefore it is a religious law. If this kind of logic is unfamiliar to you, then you haven't been reading the pronouncements of the Louisiana Coalition for Science.

Forrest cites this as an example of "doublespeak", the Orwellian practice of saying something to using language to misrepresent the truth. She needs to look up "doublethink", the practice of affirming two contradictory beliefs at one time.

20 comments:

Michael said...

The Louisiana Coalition for Science, fresh off its campaign to try to convince the public that objectivity is a creationist plot

lol, no, it's not a creationist plot even though they endorsed the bill which provided critical thinking in Louisiana. The governor which some special interest tried to get removed from office after signing the educational bill, endorses intelligent design being taught in the schools.

Education is underway, and all this special interest has in a plot is an endorsement...lol

Anonymous said...

MC: There you have it. The law says it isn't religious, and the Discovery Institute says such laws shouldn't be religious, therefore it is a religious law. If this kind of logic is unfamiliar to you, then you haven't been reading the pronouncements of the Louisiana Coalition for Science.

If this kind of logic is unfamiliar to you, then you haven't been reading the pronouncements of the Mr Cothran. See for example, the previous post.
The government says Joe isn't a plumber, and the union says such persons shouldn't be plumbers, therefore Joe is a plumber.

Aside: I've replaced valves, water heaters, galvanized pipe, and soldered copper pipe, but I am not a plumber either.

The logic is pretty straightforward - if you think the DI and its allies (here the LFF) want to promote religious teachings, you can see how this law will permit that. The mission of the LFF, taken straight from their website, is: "To persuasively present biblical principles in the centers of influence on issues affecting the family through research, communication and networking." You can read more about them there.
However, if you can think of other reasons consonant with biblical principles why the LFF might push such a bill, please post them as I sure can't think of any.

jah

bobxxxx said...

The Discovery Institute is a Christian creationist organization. Their Intelligent design is nothing more than a childish belief in magical creation. It should be obvious to everyone that the Louisiana Science Education Act was passed so that incompetent creationist biology teachers could legally lie to their students about science.

Martin Cothran said...

Misrepresentation of arguments and conspiracy theories. It's becoming more clear to me now why you all are against bills that support critical thinking and logical analysis.

island said...

It's becoming more clear to me now why you all are against bills that support critical thinking and logical analysis.

The culture war.

By far the greatest harm is what this does to the integrity of science when both sides are equally righteous, and are just as motivated by anything but science.

Nice call. You are a rare find.

Martin Cothran said...

Bobxxx:

The Discovery Institute is a Christian creationist organization.

In what way is Discovery a "creationist organization"?

Lee said...

In what way is it a Christian organization?

Art said...

"D. This Section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion."

This clause teems with contradiction. It is impossible for a law to avoid promoting discrimination against a particular religion or sect, because discrimination against particular religions or sects is what religion is all about. The very "act" of avoiding discrimination against religions or sects is in itself a discriminatory act.

Said another way, Conservative Christians take it as their God-given right to discriminate against those who do not share their beliefs. And they whine mightily when this right is infringed upon.

Lee said...

> art: "This clause teems with contradiction."

Is this expert testimony?

> "It is impossible for a law to avoid promoting discrimination against a particular religion or sect, because discrimination against particular religions or sects is what religion is all about."

That almost, but not quite, makes sense. If you mean that religious movements believe they are closer to the truth than competing religious movements (else why have a separate religious movement?), congratulations, you don't get any points but maybe a free foul shot.

But what has that got to do with the law? Why is it impossible for the law to avoid promoting discrimination just because religious ideas are competitive?

> "The very "act" of avoiding discrimination against religions or sects is in itself a discriminatory act."

So the only way to commit no discriminatory acts is to not avoid them?

> Said another way, Conservative Christians take it as their God-given right to discriminate against those who do not share their beliefs.

Discriminate? Legally?

You have examples? Evidence? I think this is the point where you need to define what you mean by discrimination.

It's just possible, mind you, that Conservative Christians might tend to disagree with your characterization of them.

> "And they whine mightily when this right is infringed upon."

It's whining when conservative Christians complain about something. It's the audacity of hope when liberals do it.

onein6billion said...

"you all are against bills that support critical thinking and logical analysis"

Yes and no. Be more specific. If someone wants to include erroneous thinking and illogical analysis into a public high school classroom, I am against it.

So we need to distinguish between the actual "critical thinking" that will be introduced and ignore the "label" if that label is not correct.

So they wish to label their nonsense as "critical thinking" even though their critical thinking is erroneous.

So when it comes to trial, the judge will look at what they are actually doing, not what they are claiming that they are doing.

So it won't really matter if they claim the law prohibits introducing religious concepts if the judge finds that they really are introducing religious concepts.

island said...

And surprise, that's how separation laws work. The "academic freemdom bills", which typically work in conjunction with the science standards, explicitly prohibit the teaching of religion, creationism, creation "science", creation "facts", and ID, so neodarwinians are reacting only to their paranoia of what they think that creationists will do, rather than what the actually can do.

Will some whacky creationists try it?... sure, and they will be in violation of their own law, so what?... THAT'S HOW SEPARATION LAWS WORK.

But it won't always be the creationists who are the whacky ones when the courts decide what constitutes scientific evidence, and what does not... much to the chagrin of neodarwinian antifanatics... and I, personally, can't wait for that to happen so that I can see the look on Barbara Forest's face when she finds out that she's just another clueless fool who is lead to believe that they are on the side of science by the willful ignorance and denial of her side's ideological righteousness... ;)

onein6billion said...

"what they think that creationists will do"

Correct. And unless they actually do it, there will not be any problems. And even if they do it, they may get away with it because there can only be a court case if someone with "standing" chooses to initiate such a case. But considering the motives of the creationists in the Louisiana legislature, they are trying to encourage some foolish school district to try to do it. And they are trying to claim that they are not trying to encourage some foolish school district to try it. So you can see that the latter contradicts the former.

"they will be in violation of their own law, so what?"

What happened at Dover? They might have to pay $1 million in court costs. And they lost the next election. In other words, they were slapped down.

"when the courts decide what constitutes scientific evidence"

The courts do that all the time. They have a lot of experience doing this and judges don't usually want to look foolish. So they usually look to real scientists to define science.

"by the willful ignorance and denial of her side's ideological righteousness."

You are entitled to your opinion. Your opinion seems very irrational to me. Science is mainly a method. The method works to understand the real world. "Ideological" and "righteousness" would seem to apply to religious faith, not the scientific method.

island said...

"what they think that creationists will do"

Correct. And unless they actually do it, there will not be any problems. And even if they do it, they may get away with it because there can only be a court case if someone with "standing" chooses to initiate such a case.

I think that it's safe to say that the interested parties will be all over the first time that somebody breaks wind.

But considering the motives of the creationists in the Louisiana legislature, they are trying to encourage some foolish school district to try to do it.

My experience says that they have been working closely with the DI so as not to violate any laws, but the teachers and some districts are probably crazy enough to push their luck, but what you don't get is that this is not like Dover, since lawsuits clarify the validity of whatever attempted criticism. This is a good thing, not the end of the world like the reactionary freaks think that it is.

And they are trying to claim that they are not trying to encourage some foolish school district to try it. So you can see that the latter contradicts the former.

No, and it doesn't matter what IDists believe that the evidence indicates, they have some valid scientific questions that scientists are generally predisposed to willfully ignore and deny because the evidence looks too much like god to them, so the scientific righteousness of neodarwinians is a lot more political in nature than they would ever admit. I see the politics as a necessary counterbalancing evil to this ideological dogma in order to uphold the integrity of science that can mean that we are not here by accident... but has nothing to do with god or ID.

"they will be in violation of their own law, so what?"

What happened at Dover? They might have to pay $1 million in court costs. And they lost the next election. In other words, they were slapped down.

This is not Dover, since ID, etc... creationism, is prohibited by the wording of their own law, as I already explained. You act like the DI hasn't learned anything, hasn't changed tactics, hasn't honed their attack to preclude any violation of the law so that they might ask some highly pointed questions. That's because you think that my "opinion is irrational, because you think that the scientific method is infalable because scientists only interpret evidence honestly. Well, you're wrong.

"when the courts decide what constitutes scientific evidence"

The courts do that all the time. They have a lot of experience doing this and judges don't usually want to look foolish. So they usually look to real scientists to define science.

Go here to see my very incomplete list of the kinds of valid scientific questions that creationists would like to ask that would get them in trouble if they did without the protect of these laws.

"by the willful ignorance and denial of her side's ideological righteousness."

And then go here to see what I wrote to the cutting-edge about how this disease still adversely affects scientists:

http://dorigo.wordpress.com/2008/06/23/guest-post-rick-ryals-the-anthropic-principle/

onein6billion said...

"they have some valid scientific questions that scientists are generally predisposed to willfully ignore"

I think that the main reason that this discussion gets confusing is that there are supposedly "pro intelligent design" and supposedly "anti-evolution" arguments.

So, yes, this may very well be different from Dover. At Dover they made the mistake of choosing an obviously pro-creationist textbook using obviously pro-religion motives. Of course that textbook contained anti-evolution arguments and some or all of those anti-evolution arguments were refuted by scientific testimony at the trial and it seems that the judge accepted that refutation, but perhaps that was irrelevant.

So, yes, you may be correct - teachers/school districts may try to use scientifically discredited anti-evolution arguments with the hope that students will jump to the conclusion that if evolution is incorrect, creationism must be correct.

See the Freshwater testimony. He got away with it for years. Only when he physically hurt a student did the truth come out. Student testimony:

“Science can’t be trusted. Science can’t teach us anything.”

It would seem that this is the purpose of the anti-evolutionists?

So, yes, teachers in Texas, Louisiana, and ... have been getting away with this for years and it seems that this law just tries to claim that since this anti-evolution information is not really religious, then it can be taught (even though it's a lie and leads to students who think science is useless).

onein6billion said...

"Go here to see my very incomplete list of the kinds of valid scientific questions that creationists would like to ask that would get them in trouble if they did without the protect of these laws."

1) The "many worlds" theory that might increase the probability of abiogenesis or the anthropic principle.

No teacher in his right mind would try to touch this kind of concept with an average high school student. Would it be on the test?

And, of course, this concerns mainly abiogenesis, not evolution.

2) This is an article in a popular magazine based on an interview with the scientist. You have singled out a particular sentence that you don't like from an article that also says:

"Because modularity begets complexity, the more modular genetic information becomes, the more complex the web of life becomes."

So the article argues that evolution is more "efficient" because of the modularity of DNA. (My interpretation)

The sentence you choose seems to be irrelevant to any arguments except that it shows that this scientist accepts evolution. I guess the point he is trying to make is that the "apparent design" in nature could be partly a result of the modularity created by both vertical and horizontal gene transfer.

Here again, this is way, way beyond any average high school student (or teacher).

3) The Anthropic Principle:

"Contrary to popularized "variant" interpretations of the physics, the anthropic principle comes from the direct scientific observation that the universe is structured in an extremely unexpected manner that includes many significant and critically balanced features that are also entirely necessary to the existence of carbon based life."

The key words are:

"extremely unexpected"

So the interesting question becomes - since we have only one universe to observe, how do we know that our universe is structured in an "extremely unexpected" manner? Perhaps it is a chicken and egg question - if we did not have this structure, we would not be here to observe it.

Now perhaps you wish to conclude that some "creator" created this universe especially for us. If so, he didn't hang around to see how it came out? At any rate, it is clear that this universe exists, that life exists in this universe, and that life has evolved over the last few billion years on this Earth. So perhaps the anthropic principle points to a creator, but it seems irrelevant to evolution.

And, as usual, this is rather too sophisticated for an average high school student and his teacher.

"valid scientific questions that creationists would like to ask that would get them in trouble if they did without the protect of these laws."

But high school teachers are not supposed to try to present these questions to their students. And these arguments are not at all the kinds of arguments that the creationist legislators want their high school teachers to teach. The legislators just want to provide a "cover" for the standard anti-evolution nonsense that creationists have been teaching for decades. Nice simple stuff like "the flagellum is irreducibly complex", therefore ...

island said...

So the interesting question becomes - since we have only one universe to observe, how do we know that our universe is structured in an "extremely unexpected" manner?

Simple, and although it is not typically known by the probabilities-freaks of the evolution debate, we have a most natural expectation that is not observed:

http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0512148

Perhaps it is a chicken and egg question - if we did not have this structure, we would not be here to observe it.

This question only comes into play once you bail on causality-responsible first principles, which is not something that physicists want to do, and is the reason that David Gross calls the "multiverse solution", 'the biggest failure of science in the last twenty years.'

Now perhaps you wish to conclude that some "creator" created this universe especially for us.

No, and your statement follows closely with the brain-dead idea that the universe that is configured specifically to produce carbon-based life over an equally specific region of the observed universe, should be created FOR us, rather than the other way round, which is the question that scientists SHOULD be asking, but don't because they fall into the same trap as you did.

The most-obvious, yet, most-avoided solution to the problem, is that there is an anthropically-oriented dynamical cosmological structure principle at work that constrains the parameters of the universe in the manner that we observe... for some good physical reason that can be defined from first physics principles.

Other than that, I have no desire to argue this ad infinitum, so I'll just say that my examples were made to point out valid reasons for signing the academic freedom bills, but were not intended as examples for teachers.

onein6billion said...

"it is not typically known by the probabilities-freaks of the evolution debate"

But this does not really seem to be about evolution - it seems to be about the creation of the universe.

"to point out valid reasons for signing the academic freedom bills, but were not intended as examples for teachers."

Non sequitur - the purpose of the bill is to allow high school teachers to continue to teach creationist nonsense. And it is clear that the motives of the legislators and the governor were religious. So you may have valid reasons, but they certainly do not.

island said...

You don't get it:

"Cosmological ID", is by no means out of the realm of high-school science classes and this isn't news.

But IDists use the same evidence and arrive at the same basic conclusions as some purely scientific "strong" explanations do, except IDists interpret the "higher-power" to be an ID, rather than a "life principle", (credit Paul Davies).

Like Georges LemaƮtre thought that his discovery of the Big Bang was proof of the biblical account of Genesis, IDists think that evidence that *can* mean that we are not here by accident necessitates an ID.

It does not matter what they believe that it means. Get it?

But the crime to science occurs when neodarwinians and other scientists deny, downplay, and willfully ignore the evidence and/or its significance, rather than to give equal time to the most apparent implication of the evidence that carries an "appearance of design".

Leonard Susskind very clearly expressed rationale for these observations in his interview with New Scientist concerning his new book, The Cosmic Landscape: String theory and the illusion of intelligent design.

Amanda Gefter of New Scientist asked him:
If we do not accept the landscape idea are we stuck with intelligent design?

Leonard Susskind:
I doubt that physicists will see it that way. If, for some unforeseen reason, the landscape turns out to be inconsistent - maybe for mathematical reasons, or because it disagrees with observation - I am pretty sure that physicists will go on searching for natural explanations of the world. But I have to say that if that happens, as things stand now we will be in a very awkward position. Without any explanation of nature's fine-tunings we will be hard pressed to answer the ID critics.

That's how strong the evidence is.

Get it?

island said...

Just an FYI, Leonard Susskind is "the father of string theory", and "the Landscape" is his controversial multiverse theory. He is an avid atheist theoretical physicist and he's talking about the physics that defines the much downplayed "anthropic principle".

The point to be made here is this:

Willful ignroance aside, it is an unavoidable fact that the anthropic coincidences are observed to be uniquely related to the structuring of the universe in a way that defies the most natural expectation for the evolution of the universe in a manner that is also highly-pointed toward the production of carbon based life at a specific time in its history, (and over an equally specific, fine-layer or region of the "Goldilocks Zone" of the observed universe).

If you disallow unproven and speculative physics theory, then an evidentially supported implication does necessarily exist that carbon-based life is somehow "specially" relevant to the structure mechanism of the universe, and weak, multiverse interpretations do not supercede this fact, unless a multiverse is proven to be more than cutting-edge theoretical speculation.

Just so that ya also know how pointed the evidence really is, and if it takes a high-school creationist to push the issue through court to the GENERAL RECOGNITION of the masses, then so be it...

onein6billion said...

"if it takes a high-school creationist to push the issue through court to the GENERAL RECOGNITION of the masses"

Hilarious. You'll get general recognition of your "issue" in another few centuries or never, but not in my lifetime. And creationist = religious and they are not at all interested in this stuff. They are anti-evolution and anti-science and pro-salvation and pro-end times and anti-atheist and pro-human domination over all other life.

Your arguments don't have anything to do with what has or will happen in Louisiana.